Attorney Mike Cavaretta was quoted recently in an article on video game news site G4tv.com about the classic video game System Shock and the possibility of a sequel. As an attorney who frequently deals with trademark licensing and intercompany arrangements, Mike commented on the complexities of getting a new development deal cleared. See Mike’s input below:
Even with development rights, EA’s prior trademark could be an issue for potential buyers. Michael Cavaretta, an attorney who deals with trademarks and copyrights in the video game industry, believes a publisher wouldn’t be able to create another System Shock without EA’s blessing. Oddly enough, there are no records of EA applying for the System Shock trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office until 2005, but EA likely has common law rights as a prior publisher, and could still revive its trademark from the dead, Cavaretta said. That could cause trouble for a publisher looking to bring back the series.
“You’d probably get a rejection from the Patent and Trademark Office, and you’d probably have to demonstrate that the mark had been permanently abandoned or that you’ve gotten consent from the original applicant,” Cavaretta said.